Category Archives: Mold Allergies

Strange Odor Leads to Unpleasant Discovery

Strange Odor

I arrived on site and met with my client. I wore street clothes as she didn’t want any of her neighbors or board members of her homeowners’ association knowing she is having a mold inspection performed. She said she bought her condominium about seven months ago and noticed an odor which she thought was wet paint. The odor is still there and she wanted to see if it was mold related. When I walked in, there was definitely an odor, and to me it smelled of sewage. I told the client that odors can be tricky since some molds don’t have an odor, and it also depends on the state of some molds as to when they have an odor, and obviously some odors aren’t mold-related. I explained that I would use special moisture detection equipment such as a moisture meter and hygrometer to detect if there are any issues, coupled with any visually suspect conditions.

The condo looked very clean, I didn’t see any visible mold-like growth, and no actively wet building materials were noted. I was determined to find out where that odor was coming from and, although maybe some of our competitors would call it quits at this point and just pull an air sample and outside control, I dug a little deeper. First I stomped on the flooring materials slightly and noticed a not-so-solid sound. I asked the client if she knew of a crawlspace below her unit. She said there is one and the access is in her Master Bedroom closet. I also noted an access panel that I presumed was behind a shower in her Bathroom. I asked if she minded if I removed the access panel and she said I absolutely could. When I opened up the access panel I was hit with the odor and it was much stronger. I saw some slight rust on some materials under the tub but everything was dry and I didn’t see anything suspicious but then I saw the subfloor had a hole to the Crawlspace below. I decided to suit up in my Tyvek suit and half mask and head on down. She asked if that would cost extra. Knowing the client wasn’t able to drop a lot of cash on this inspection I told her I could absolutely include the extra area in the original price, plus my desire to figure out the source of the odor was peaking my interest. She was very appreciative of that and of my thoroughness.

I went down there and noted the usual suspect conditions (no vapor barrier, building materials in contact with exposed soils, carpet in contact with the soil) but I didn’t see anything that would cause that odor until I went directly under the room I was inspecting. This is where I found a leaking sewage line with about 15 lineal feet of standing black water. When I got back up to the client’s condo I explained what I had saw and she was so relieved that I found the source of the odor that she has been living with for 7 months. I told her I didn’t see any mold-like growth but told her how I strongly recommend the air samples as there could certainly be hidden mold growth since not only does she have standing water in her Crawlspace, but the water is category 3, or black water. Having had mitigation / remediation experience I told her what the process will look like to extract the black water and how all the building materials should be removed and a vapor barrier installed. I also drew on my previous property management experienced and told her most likely that the Crawlspace would be the HOA’s responsibility, although she should double check in her governing documents.

This project reminded me of why I do what I do, to help people and find problems that can be fixed which will lead to happier, healthier clients. I gave her my card and asked her for a review which she said she would absolutely give me one.

Steve Stockburger

Steve Stockburger, Senior Inspector

What If There’s mold On My belongings?

Moldy Furniture

Many times when clients’ tests come back positive for mold growth, the next concern typically is “I think mold may be on my belongings. Can I get rid of the mold or do I have to throw my belongings away?”

The small porous stuff (such as clothing, stuffed animals, bedding, etc.) can easily be washed. You can use your choice of vinegar, bleach, Borax, tea tree oil, or whatever other cleaning agent. But the items need to be washed on the hottest setting possible and permissible. Then hang the items in the sun while still wet to help get rid of germs and odors and to fade any staining.

For small non-porous items (such as toys, dishes, the shower door, etc.), a little elbow grease, some hot water, and your preferred cleaning agent will do the trick. You may even place the item in the dishwasher (remember you can put larger items in by taking out the upper rack). Be sure to thoroughly dry the items with a well-absorbing towel, well-circulating air, or even in the sun.

As far as larger items go, there are a few different options. The first option is to break the item down to try to put items into the washing machine and use a little elbow grease where necessary. Another option is to hire a restoration company to clean the items. You may want to get valuable furniture reupholstered. And if the item is not worth the time or money to clean, simply replace it.

All in all, belongings can be salvaged with proper cleaning. It may take some time and patience, but mold doesn’t mean you need to throw everything away.

Heidi Aspedon, Customer Service Representative

Heidi Aspedon, Customer Service Representative

A Complete Mold Diagnosis

Mold diagnosis for your homeYou have decided to have your mold concerns diagnosed by a professional. In a sense you have decided to take your home to the doctor. You are expecting a complete diagnosis so that you know how to move forward in resolving your concerns. Usually, the complete diagnosis will include an investigation and testing.

A mold investigation will paint you a partial picture of what might be going on in your home, much like when you go for an office visit with your doctor. The doctor will tell you it appears that you might have strep throat, but you will need a strep test to confirm. The doctor will need to order the correct prescription based on the testing results. You would certainly want to be taking the correct medication in order to get well. The same applies to the recommendations your inspector will make as far as testing any visible mold like growth or the air in your home, based on his findings during the investigation. Your inspector will need to gather as much information as possible in order to advise you on the steps for remediation (your home’s prescription).

Sometimes mold testing is not necessary. Sometimes a strep throat test is not necessary. Sometimes an x-ray of your lungs is recommended to see if something else might be causing your sore throat. Sometimes air testing, swab testing, or wall-cavity testing is recommended and could be essential for a complete diagnosis and prescription.

If you were to have air samples taken without an inspection, you would find out if there were specific mold spores in the air you are breathing, but would not have a clue to what might be causing them or where they could be coming from. With the inspection, your consultant could help pinpoint the problem area by possibly finding wet building materials, a plumbing leak, a roof leak, etc. If you were to just have an inspection and did not have any of the recommended tests performed, you would find out that you might have a plumbing leak or wet materials, but would have no clue if there was any hidden mold somewhere or in the air you are breathing. You would have a partial picture. You might be taking the wrong steps to remedy the situation, like taking a prescription for a virus when you have an infection.

A complete diagnosis of your mold concerns is essential in order to paint you a 3-D picture of what may be going on in your home. The mold inspection will be to find any issues that are conducive to mold growth, such as wet materials, moisture, and humidity, which can pinpoint possible sources. The samples or tests will tell us and you what types of molds are present and their concentration. Your inspector and project manager will review the findings, photographs, conclusions, and the lab results. They will put all of this together in your report and will then let you know what your next steps should be to begin the healing process of your home.

Tina-Yaeger

by Tina Yaeger

Are Mold Allergies Real?

Mold allergiesEvery day I hear from potential clients, real estate agents, property managers, and the like asking me if there is still a “mold problem” and/or do indoor mold allergies really affect people?  The next question usually goes down the road asking about ”toxic” mold, and whether only those molds with mycotoxins will cause allergy issues or health problems.  The short answer is yes indoor mold allergies can and will affect a person’s health.  The notion that only “toxic” mold causing these issues is not accurate.

Just like going outside on a day when the Meteorologist’s web site informs you that there is a high level of mold outside, elevated levels of indoor molds could be just as much a problem, or in some cases worse.  And if those elevated levels contain types of mold(s) that are NOT found outdoors in moderate numbers/levels, the risks could be greater.

Molds are very person specific.  Just like having a food allergy or being allergic to a bee sting, having a severe mold allergy could make life very uncomfortable if exposed to elevated levels of certain types of mold.  The best way to determine if your indoor air quality is “normal” would be to have a licensed Mold Consulting Agency collect ambient air samples, analyze the results, and keep you well informed on exactly what the results mean.

One thing to remember is that you want your testing company to not be in the remediation or restoration business.  You want to use a company that only wants to give you the honest results about your samples.  MISTX does not perform remediation, restoration, or construction.   I would rather be able to call a client and give her good news that the air samples collected from her home were normal.  People love hearing good news and when they hear that those air samples are “normal”, I’ve actually had some people cry on the phone they’re so happy.

The bottom line is YES mold allergies are real and if you’re concerned, contact an honest professional to address the situation.

Justin-Clemens

by Justin Clemens

Are Mold Remediation Companies Scamming Homeowners?

Yesterday, Jeff Rossen on Rossen Reports Today, aired an expose about mold remediation contractors scamming homeowners. 5 out of 8 Mold Remediation Contractors they called out told the undercover reporter that there was Black Mold in the home and that she needed Mold Remediation. They told her that she should not waste her money on testing that it was Black Mold for sure! Then, they provided her with bids for the work they told her she had to have because the mold was dangerous! One mold remediation contractor quoted $1200, but one quoted her $10,000.

Black mold testing

Laboratory analysis is required to determine mold type.

The moral of the story: get a professional mold inspection company to perform a thorough inspection and mold testing BEFORE you hire a remediation contractor. No one can tell you a mold-like substance is mold or mildew or Black

Mold without laboratory analysis. Do not trust a company that performs both mold inspections AND mold remediation. Get an independent, non-biased opinion from a licensed Mold Assessment Consultant (Texas and Florida) or Certified Mold Inspector first! Check out the Rossen Report video here: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/26184891/vp/47292508#47292508

3 Mold Groups

Molds are organized into three groups according to human responses: Allergenic, Pathogenic and Toxigenic.

Allergenic Molds

Allergenic molds do not usually produce life-threatening health effects and are most likely to affect those who are already allergic or asthmatic. The human system responses to allergenic molds include: hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash (dermatitis). Allergic reactions to mold are common. They can be immediate or delayed. Molds can also cause asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to mold.  In addition, mold exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs of both mold-allergic and non-allergic people.

Pathogenic Molds

Pathogenic molds usually produce some type of infection. They can cause serious health effects in persons with suppressed immune systems. Healthy people can usually resist infection by these organisms regardless of dose. In some cases, high exposure may cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis (an acute response to exposure to an organism).

Toxigenic Molds

Mycotoxins can cause serious health effects in almost anybody. These agents have toxic effects ranging from short-term irritation to immunosuppression and possibly cancer. Therefore, when toxigenic molds are found further evaluation is recommended.

Common Indoor Molds

The most common types of molds found indoors include:

  • Aspergillus
  • Cladosporium
  • Penicillium
  • Alternaria
  • Stachybotrys, also known as “Black Toxic Mold.”

Some molds, including Stachybotrys, produce chemical toxins known as “mycotoxins,” which are generated and released into the air, leading to the “toxic mold” designation. Exposure to these toxins can occur through inhalation, ingestion, or skin contact, and can result in symptoms including dermatitis, cough, rhinitis, nose bleeds, cold and flu symptoms, headache, general malaise and fever.

The US EPA states that mold spores, whether dead or alive, can cause adverse health effects and allergy symptoms.

For more information about types of molds and mold-related health probleMold under the microscopems, go to the EPA’s website: http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldbasics.html

 

New Video Posted on YouTube – Why Choose Mold Inspection Sciences

I thought people might like to hear from me why they should use Mold Inspection Sciences.  There are many other reasons why, but these are the top reasons people choose us. This is my first video, so take a look: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVRiY8kovrE

You can also check out the new Mold Inspection Sciences of Dallas website at: www.moldinspectiondallas.com